Hackney Council have announced they will scrap the controversial Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) which criminalised activities like begging and drinking in public. The PSPO, or Linden’s Law as it came to be known, was already being used to harass and criminalise homeless people. It has also been called an attacked on freedom of assembly and freedom of speech in public.
And civil rights group Liberty were beginning to ask whether Linden’s Law was even legal. They were gearing up to take action against Oxford Council for a similar order which they said was unlawful and would “criminalise homeless people and buskers”.
Despite initially defending Linden’s Law, Hackney council has crumbled in the face of public anger. A petition against Linden’s Law reached over 80,000 signatures, and protests in the hundreds were planned for meetings outside Hackney Town Hall. Resistance to Linden’s Law has been led by Reclaim Hackney, a new collective formed to fight gentrification in the borough.
In response to public pressure, the council initially removed direct reference to ‘rough sleeping’ from Linden’s Law. But Digs and Reclaim Hackney continued to demand it to be withdrawn in its entirety.
Kennedy, member of Digs, said:
“We hope the demise of Linden’s Law prompts the council to seriously re-think their approach to rough sleepers in Hackney. Rough sleepers do not receive adequate support and housing from the council, and to criminalise them on top of this is callous and unjust. If a society is judged by how it treats its most vulnerable members, Hackney council should be hanging their heads in shame right now.
“This is a victory for people power and shows what we can achieve when we organise and take action. This should send an unequivocal message to the council and developers that the people of Hackney won’t stand by whilst victims of the housing crisis are conveniently sanitised from public view. Hackney is for everyone, not just the affluent few.
“Let’s hope Councillor Linden and the council will think twice before introducing draconian policies without public consultation, believing themselves to be above public opinion
“The protest against Hackney Council planned for Monday 22nd June, 5-7:30pm will now be a family friendly celebration of the values we want Hackney to be built upon. We invite everyone in Hackney to come and join the festivities.”